Title contending Zags have an ace in Eli

Eli Morgan went from a lightly recruited high schooler to one of the best arms in program history. (5-17-2017)

Every good collegiate baseball team needs an ace and Eli Morgan is the perfect ace for Gonzaga.

"He's a Bulldog and he gets after it," senior catcher Jake Roberts said.

Morgan takes the bump to begin every series and he's been dominant.

"It's been cool being able to go out there first and set the tone," the junior right-handed pitcher said.

The California native is 6-1 in conference play this season and an impressive 15-1 in WCC action throughout his career. Not bad for someone barely recruited out of high school.

"It was a little scary at times going into the last month or two of my senior year and the only option I had was Chapman, which was a (Division III)," Morgan said.

Morgan is listed at 5 feet 10 inches tall and 185 pounds. So, you can imagine his slender frame at 18 years old.

"It was not a very involved process for any stretch of time," Gonzaga head coach Mark Machtolf said. "He wasn't a kid who threw really hard so that's one thing people look for."

Morgan added, "I knew I had to go out there and prove myself if I wanted to pitch at this level."

Machtolf took a chance on Morgan and the man has produced since day one.

"Coaches gained a little more trust in me as a pitcher and kept piling on innings from there," the five-time 2017 WCC player of the week said.

As a freshman, Morgan made 14 appearances posting the second best ERA on the team at 2.36. The following season, Morgan earned a spot in the rotation posting a 10-3 record. This year, the pitcher ranks fourth in the nation with 118 strikeouts in just 87 innings.

"He's beyond words to be honest," Roberts said. "He makes my job very easy."

Roberts gets the best view in the park for every start and he believes he's witnessing one of the greatest to ever stand on the mound in Spokane.

"Eli Morgan will be up there with the best to come through Gonzaga," Roberts said.

His head coach agrees.

"When we talk about the most effective and the group of pitchers who have been outstanding, his name will definitely be in that group for sure," Machtolf said.

Despite the high praise and eye-popping numbers, scouts still don't believe he's a major prospect entering the MLB Draft in June.

"I wouldn't say it makes me angry, it just is what it is," Morgan said. "It's definitely skewed logic, same with the size thing. If I'm getting outs, I'm going to get outs at the next level."

There's no guarantee Morgan will leave Gonzaga after the season, but when he does leave for the MLB, it's his experience as a Bulldog and an underdog that should help him continue to be the dominant pitcher no one thought he'd become.

"Getting overlooked a little bit, but once I get my foot in the door, I'll be successful," Morgan said.

© 2017 KREM-TV


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